Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shattered Hopes: "Mirrors" (1978)

Kitty Winn, of "Panic in Needle Park" and the first two "Exorcist" films learned a lesson after she made this film in 1978...she did not make another.

Winn and her husband are vacationing in voodoo saturated New Orleans. The staff of the small hotel they stay at already know this, and proceed to put an ancient voodoo priestess' curse on her.

Now whenever Winn goes to sleep, she sees people she knows die, and her dreams are tied into the myriad of mirrors that seem to be everywhere. After an acquaintance walks through a mirror and dies, Winn's asthmatic husband dies also. This is where the film gets bad. Winn is taken to the hospital, where she meets doctor Peter Donat. He takes a keen interest in her, and lets her stay in the Big Easy to tie up affairs and get her husband back home to Illinois. She also keeps running into staff from that hotel, in addition to other assorted odd business owners from that area.

One too many times, she walks in on conversations that seem to involve her, until finally she gets on the train out of Louisiana. She stops in a small town, at an abandoned train station (the film's scariest scene), and the doctor comes to get her. As she visits the hotel again, she begins to see that none of this is in her mind, that these people are trying to get her, and...the film ends.

I like a good ambiguous ending as much as the next guy, but this thing ended as if they had run out of money. There is no payoff scene, no climax, and really no explanation for what happened to Winn during the film. The film makers try to keep you guessing about whether everything is in her imagination, or being staged by the local voodoo worshipers, but as a viewer we know it's the voodoo people (the writers say so). This leaves almost an hour and a half of Winn walking around rooms in a sleepless stupor, covering mirrors and muttering to herself.

Black's direction is okay, as I said, the abandoned train station scene is creepy, but technically the film is inept. The entire film is dubbed later. There are no natural sounds on the film, and to save on budget, many scenes involve the camera pointing to one person while another character is talking. Irritating after the first five minutes. Winn is okay, but her character is almost unplayable because she is so "mysterious" she has no notable characteristics. Donat as the doc is probably in on the conspiracy too, but we never really know for sure.

The musical score is fine, but this film is rated (PG), and never really lets loose in the scare or gore departments. Ray Bradbury is credited on here as a "creative consultant," whatever that means, but none of his genius is evident.

By the time the second half started, and we had to visit Winn's dreams for the hundredth time, the film lost me. With all the broken mirrors in this thing, seven years bad luck is light punishment for the producers. I cannot recommend this. (* *) out of five stars.